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- Created 2012-02-27
, "black, dark") is a broad term for a group of natural
s found in most organisms (
s are one of the few groups in which it has not been detected). Melanin is a derivative of the
, however it is not itself made of amino acids and is not a protein. The pigment is produced in a specialized group of cells known as
There are three basic types of melanin:
The most common type is eumelanin, and is produced in 'black' and 'brown' subtypes. Pheomelanin is a
-containing red-brown polymer of
units largely responsible for red hair and
s. Neuromelanin is found in the
, though its function remains obscure.
The production of melanin is called
. In the skin, melanogenesis occurs after exposure to UV radiation, causing the skin to visibly
. Melanin is an effective absorber of light; the pigment is able to dissipate over 99.9% of absorbed UV radiation. Because of this property, melanin is thought to protect skin cells from
UVB radiation damage
, reducing the risk of
. Furthermore, though exposure to UV radiation is associated with increased risk of
, a cancer of the melanocytes, studies have shown a lower incidence for skin cancer in individuals with more concentrated melanin, i.e. darker skin tone. Nonetheless, the relationship between skin pigmentation and
is still being clarified.
from Wikipedia (last updated: 03 December), licensed under
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